With a history as deep as the Toronto Maple Leafs, it becomes difficult at times to remember every single player that left roots in Toronto during their NHL career. That’s why this series looks back on some of the former NHLers who suited up for the Maple Leafs at one point or another during their playing days.
Forgotten or not, each of the players we talk about isn’t particularly remembered for their time in Toronto, rather their days spent elsewhere around the league. With that, we’ll take a closer look at the player’s career, how they became a Maple Leaf and what they did while donning the Maple Leafs’ blue and white.
While he opened his career with the Maple Leafs, Vincent Damphousse might be best remembered for his time with the Montreal Canadiens and San Jose Sharks. That being said, his career started in Toronto when he debuted for the Maple Leafs in 1986-87.
Damphousse Becoming a Maple Leaf
A native of Montreal, Quebec, obviously it would’ve been an experience of a lifetime had Damphousse been drafted by the Canadiens when he became eligible in 1986. But destiny doesn’t always dictate the paths we take in life and, instead, he was selected in the first round, sixth overall, by the rival Maple Leafs during the 1986 NHL Entry Draft.
It didn’t take Damphousse long to step into the Maple Leafs’ lineup as the former NHLer debuted for the blue and white the same year he was drafted – playing 80 games for the Maple Leafs as a 19-year-old during the 1986-87 season.
Donning the Blue Maple Leaf
His rookie season indicated to the Maple Leafs organization just what they had in Damphousse. He played an in-your-face type of game, but it worked in his favour as he tallied 21 goals and 46 points in his rookie campaign.
He played four more seasons for the Maple Leafs – including three more seasons in which he tallied 25 goals or more – and finished the 1989-90 season with 33 goals and 94 points in 80 games. That was his best season in blue and white. That season he finished ninth in Lady Byng voting – the highest in that category during his NHL career.
With the Maple Leafs, Damphousse saw playoff action during three seasons with his best showing coming in his rookie season where he had a goal and five points in 12 postseason games for the Maple Leafs. Unfortunately, like many before and after him, he was unable to help the Maple Leafs in achieving the ultimate goal – bring a Stanley Cup to Toronto.
The Rest of Damphousse’s Career
Following the 1990-91 season, the Maple Leafs moved a 23-year-old Damphousse to the Edmonton Oilers along with Peter Ing, Luke Richardson, Scott Thornton, cash and future considerations for Glenn Anderson, Craig Berube and Grant Fuhr.
Damphousse played just one season with the Oilers, scoring 89 points in 80 games before the traded him again the following offseason to his hometown Canadiens. It was there that Damphousse really solidified his NHL career – including a career-high 97 points in 84 games his first season with the Canadiens in 1992-93 which helped lead them to a Stanley Cup championship. It was a playoff run that had Damphousse score 11 goals and 23 points in just 20 playoff games for the Habs.
Damphousse played parts of seven seasons with the Canadiens and accumulated 184 goals and 498 points in 519 regular season games. He finished his career with a six season stint in San Jose where he had another 289 points in 385 regular season games for a point-per-game average of 0.75, but it didn’t come close to his 0.96 rate that he had in Montreal.
Over the entirety of his career, Damphousse averaged 0.87 points per game. He finished his career with 1,205 points in 1,378 regular season games and 104 points in another 140 playoff games.
While it won’t last forever, he sits 48th on the NHL’s all-time points list, while another former Maple Leaf and Shark forward chases him down as the next closest active player – Patrick Marleau sitting at 1,188.
Either way, his career was one that included some highlight moments and while he might be most remembered for his time with the Canadiens and what he brought during their Stanley Cup run, there’s no forgetting where Damphousse started his NHL career back in 1986 – in blue and white, with the Maple Leafs.
All-Time Maple Leafs’ Ranks
Games Played: 394 GP (68th)
Goals: 118 G (T43rd)
Assists: 211 A (25th)
Points: 329 P (31st)
Points-Per-Game: 0.84 P/G (T37th)
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.